The Granada Theater in The Dalles has received a $90,000 grant for a new heating and cooling system at the historic 1920s era theater.
The grant is from the National Park Service Historical Revitalization Subgrant program and was issued by the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office to The Dalles Main Street, in partnership with the Granada. Main Street applied for and will manage the grant. The theater is owned by Chuck and Debra Gomez.
The theater’s cooling needs are currently served by an antiquated “swamp cooler” located in the basement, said Chuck Gomez. Air from the old system was moved through a vent system “large enough to stand upright in,” and was incapable of cooling the building sufficiently in the summer. The heating system was also poor, and as a result the theater was closed in mid-summer and mid-winter.
The new system will involve installing new duct work, Gomez said, likely from the ceiling instead of the basement. “It will be a 10-foot run into the building, rather than the 75-foot run from the basement that is currently in place.”
Don Warren, president of Main Street, said revitalization projects in the downtown core have brought significant economic activity to town in the short term, and even more in the long term as the theater attracts more visitors and events with a more comfortable experience and longer season.
“It will bring a lot of money into The Dalles over the years, going forward,” he noted.
Gomez agreed, noting that for every $1 spent on a theater experience, $7 is spent in town for food, gas, lodging and other needs associated with the attending. “This will increase our attraction, with a more comfortable, year-round experience,” he said. “We have never had shows in December and January,” he said, and closed in the hottest portion of the summer as well. “This will increase our season by about 33 percent.”
Winter weddings, for example, will now be an option. “We do a lot of weddings,” he noted. “Now we can do them in winter.”
As part of the cooling system, an awning will be installed above the cafe windows on Second Street west of the theater entrance. The new awning will match a historical one visible in early photos of the theater as much as possible, Gomez said.
Work on the project is expected to begin this fall.
In the meantime, theater seating has been adjusted to allow space for social distancing, with open seating spread out on the main floor, a reduction in seating from 299 to 150. “We are well within the guidelines, and the local health department is very supportive of the changes we have made,” Gomez said of the changes. Both live events and movies are currently on the theater’s schedule.